Do you love L.A. architecture? This is a follow-up to my previous article which highlighted three must-see exhibitions for planners, architects, and just about anyone interested in Los Angeles, architecture, and/or urban design. Shortly after writing that post, I have since learned about two other exhibitions that should also be added to the list: The Presence of the Past: Peter Zumthor Reconsiders LACMA and Becoming Los Angeles.
Over the weekend, I visited LACMA and came across this interesting exhibition housed at the Resnick Pavilion. This show is about the proposed future of the LACMA campus as envisioned by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor. The exhibition begins with a detailed examination of the museum’s buildings within the complex history of the Rancho La Brea area. It then focuses on Zumthor’s preliminary plans for an iconic new building to house the permanent collection, with several large models built by the architect’s studio (see additional photos here). I was very impressed by the models and the details they included. There was also a model of one of my favorite buildings at LACMA: the Pavilion for Japanese Art designed by well-known architect Bruce A. Goff. The exhibition also presents some of Zumthor’s key projects that are most relevant to his vision for LACMA, including: the Therme Vals in Switzerland, Kunsthaus Bregenz in Austria, and the Kolumba Art Museum of the Cologne Archdiocese in Germany. These examples reflect the defining characteristics of Zumthor’s practice: his interest in the geologic history of the site; his passion for craftsmanship, materials, and sensory experience; and his commitment to an architecture of total integration. This exhibition ends on September 15, 2013.
Becoming Los Angeles is not strictly an architectural exhibit, but I think planners and architects will find it helpful and relevant. According to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM), the new 14,000-square-foot exhibit will offer a unique take on Los Angeles’ stories, focusing on how land and people interacted, and how those interactions affect the city. The show will feature storytelling, contemporary design, exceptional objects, and multi-media that allow visitors to interact with the exhibition. Housed inside a suite of four galleries in the Museum’s newly-renovated 1913 and 1920s buildings, a canopy will symbolize the sweep of history and lead visitors through the exhibit’s major sections or historical eras: the pre-Spanish landscape; Mission Era; Mexican Rancho Era; the early years of the American Period; the emergence of a new American city in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; and Los Angeles as a global city of the 21st century. NHM is in the unique position to host this exhibit because it has been collecting L.A. history for generations, and will use a wide variety of material culture, including family heirlooms, everyday housewares, tools, toys, cars, movie-making equipment, and other machines dating back to before the official founding of the city in 1781. Rare objects, many of them never before displayed in public, will be on display. They include items from the Native American, Spanish colonial, Mexican, and early American periods, the emerging motion picture industry, early L.A. city and county government records, automotive and aviation history, and photographs that document the landscapes and communities of Southern California in the 19th and early 20th centuries. As a planner, what I am most interested in seeing is the 1939 Works Progress Administration (WPA) model of downtown Los Angeles (shown in this Daily News article). This exhibitions opens on July 14, 2013.
As I did with the other three exhibitions I highlighted previously, I encourage you to check out these two shows if you want to learn more about Los Angeles and its unique architecture and built environment.
Note: All photos by author.